Are you aware there are exercises which can help prepare your body for a quicker, easier childbirth? According to Janelle Durham, a childbirth educator and doula in Kirkland, WA, there are. And like so many experiences in life, the more prepared we are, the easier things will be.
During pregnancy there is a hormone called Relaxin being pumped through the body working to soften the cervix and relax pelvic ligaments for childbirth. Beyond this natural occurring preparation, you have the opportunity to increase your chances of a natural childbirth with a few simple yoga postures that gently open the hip joints and help guide the baby toward an optimal birthing position.
The following postures are safe to practice from conception through to delivery:
Baddha Konasana or Butterfly
This pose opens your pelvis and keeps your lower back limber. Sit on the floor with the soles of the feet together and knees out to the sides. If the low back is rounding then move the heels further away from the groin to straighten the spine. If the spine is still rounding then prop the bottom up higher by sitting on a bolster, blocks or a folded blanket and secure the posture with a Lotus Wrap . The Lotus Wrap provides support to the back and knees while allowing the pelvis to open without over extending or causing discomfort to the hip joints. Click to view image of Baddha Konasana with the Lotus Wrap
Sukhasana or Easy Pose
This posture relaxes the hip joints and supports the baby in his or her optimal birthing position. Begin by sitting on the floor with crossed legs and placing a foam block or folded blanket under the sit bones to tilt the hips forward. If using a Lotus Wrap simply bring it around the back to cover the lumbar and sacral areas of the spine and place over the knees, and then securely fasten the tail through the rings in front of the body until firm support is felt across the back. Click to view image of Sukhasana with the Lotus Wrap
Vajrasana or Rock Pose
Sitting on the heels brings the hips above the knees and a forward tilt to the belly which promotes an anterior positioning of the baby and an easier birth. Be sure to sit on a meditation cushion, yoga mat or folded blanket to protect the tops of the feet. If using a Lotus Wrap then simply envelope the entire lower body (knees and sacrum) ensuring the rings are positioned along the thigh to feel the support across the low back. Click to view image of Vajrasana with the Lotus Wrap
On a physiological level our hip muscles are in relationship with the fight or flight response of our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). In yoga it’s said that we store emotions in the hips and it is extremely common to experience both a physical and emotion release when practicing hip opening postures. Often this is where feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness or frustration are buried.
An added benefit to practicing yoga during pregnancy is to learn how to engage the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), the state in which our bodies relax and repair. Activation of the PNS is especially important for mothers-to-be because the body is in a constant state of adjustment and renewal. Continuing to access the PNS during postpartum encourages a speedy recovery.
To assist you on this journey, Earth to Ethers has thoughtfully designed the Lotus Wrap, a soft fabric strap which envelopes your body and supports the spine and knees during yoga and meditation. The natural fibres of the Lotus Wrap provide comfort and support to expectant mothers by cocooning the body and engaging in Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), which assists in activating the PNS.
Breath focused meditation is an excellent addition to the above postures as it helps focus the mind and calm emotional upset or fear. Fear itself can slow labor and increase pain. Adopting a breath focused meditation early on in pregnancy will give you another useful tool come delivery time.
The following breathing meditation focuses the mind and calms the nervous system:
- Inhale slowly through the nose counting four beats
- Hold the inhale for two beats
- Exhale through the nose counting four beats
- Hold the exhale for two beats
guest blog post from: Kara Schwandt, the founder and owner of Earth to Ethers